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The Pittsburgh Steelers roster ranks in the bottom half of the NFL, per ESPN

The Pittsburgh Steelers roster is rather unproven, and their ranking among the NFL would explain just that.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

The 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers are an unknown commodity at this point in the offseason. There is plenty of potential up and down their roster, but it is a far cry from being the known commodity fans have grown accustomed to the past decade.

A lot of the uncertainty hinges on the fact no one knows what to expect with the offense without Ben Roethlisberger on the roster. Not only is the production an unknown, but so is the next quarterback.

Will the next quarterback be Mitch Trubisky? Mason Rudolph? Kenny Pickett?

No one knows, and this makes the 2022 roster more of a complexity. On top of the offensive questions, the defense, which ranked 32nd in the NFL last season, has their share of unknowns as well.

Will the loss of Stephon Tuitt to retirement end up being a death knell for the defense for a second consecutive year? Will Devin Bush return to form, finally? How about the free agent signings of Myles Jack, Damontae Kazee and Levi Wallace impact the production of the defense?

These concerns are not isolated to the Steelers. Plenty of teams have these concerns, but in Pittsburgh the expectation is different. It makes you wonder just how the Steelers’ roster ranks when compared to the rest of the league. ESPN recently ranked all 32 NFL rosters, but before we get into the rankings, there is some background information on this exercise which is needed:

With the 2022 draft and free agency behind us, we’re breaking down each team’s roster using the PFF database, with an eye toward the projected starters. We looked at both the PFF grades from the 2021 season — a number included for every projected starter — and a more comprehensive assessment of each player’s career using both PFF grades and statistics.

- Pro Football Focus grades of 90-plus categorize as elite, 80-89.9 are good/high quality, 70-79.9 check in as average and 69.9 or lower are considered below average.

- For rookies and players not active (or barely active) in 2021, we used college grades or NFL grades from earlier seasons. NFL grades from 2020 or earlier are marked with (*), college grades from 2021 are marked with (**), and college grades from 2020 or earlier are marked with (***).

With that being said, let’s take a look at the rankings, and where the Steelers rank among the league’s best.

ESPN Roster Rankings

1. Buffalo Bills
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. Los Angeles Chargers
4. Los Angeles Rams
5. Green Bay Packers
6. Cleveland Browns
7. Philadelphia Eagles
8. Cincinnati Bengals
9. Kansas City Chiefs
10. Miami Dolphins
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

Biggest strength: It’s hard to find many better duos along the defensive front than T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward. Over the past three seasons, both Watt and Heyward rank among the top three players at their respective positions in both quarterback pressures and run stops. Their ability to make impact plays regardless of the situation is at the center of Pittsburgh’s defensive success over that three-year stretch.

Biggest weakness: The Steelers’ offensive line has deteriorated from a unit that five-plus years ago was one of the best in the league under offensive line coach Mike Munchak. Now it profiles closer to the bottom of the league. This group was aided in pass protection by Ben Roethlisberger’s 2.2-second average time to throw over the past two seasons (fastest in the NFL), making how it fares in what should be a different-looking 2022 offense something worth monitoring.

X factor for 2022: The two-year, $8 million contract Ahkello Witherspoon signed to remain in Pittsburgh this offseason doesn’t scream No. 1 outside cornerback, but that’s what the Steelers are counting on him to be when looking at the rest of their roster. From Week 13 through the end of the season, Witherspoon allowed a passer rating of just 20.2 on throws into his coverage. His play has been hot and cold throughout his five-year career, but the Steelers will be hoping he carries over that momentum into 2022.

It’s hard to argue with much said about the Steelers ranking, and even the description of the unit. You can argue the Steelers’ roster is better than a team, or two, above them, but ultimately the Steelers will find themselves near the same ranking until they prove they can go out and win games in 2022.

As for the division, here are how all four teams who call the AFC North home ranked:

AFC North Rankings

6. Cleveland Browns
8. Cincinnati Bengals
12. Baltimore Ravens
22. Pittsburgh Steelers

With all that being said, what do you think about all of this? Do you think the Steelers should be given more credit for the roster they assembled? Or do you think the experts have this pretty spot on?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason and prepare for training camp at Saint Vincent College on July 26th.